Nightmare Canyon is actually a scenic canyon in California’s Red Rock Canyon State Park. I hiked up the main branch of the canyon to near its upper limits where I left the canyon and went up the slopes to reach the summit of Peak 3425 ft (see attached page). I then descended into a side branch of the canyon before returning to the main branch to create a lollipop loop (see map). The path that I followed did not involve any technical difficulties. Other hiking variations are of course possible.
Make sure you read Red Tape at the bottom of this page.
From the junctions of Route 14 and 395 near Ridgecrest, California, drive about 26 miles south on Route 14 going past Ricardo Campground on the right (west). Look for the large parking area at Red Cliffs Natural Area on the left (east).
The hike as described here is 9.5 miles long.
Red Cliffs from the parking area.
From the parking area, I headed north/northeast on a trail.
The trail reached a dirt road form the left. I followed the road for a while until after about 1.3 miles I reached a fence that closed the path to motorized vehicles. I then continued north at the bottom of a dry wash. The canyon was wide open at first.
It then became tight.
After 2.5 miles, I reached the split in my path in the canyon as shown on the map.
Continuing left up the canyon (left path).
The canyon then opened up again. At that point, I exited the canyon and began to go up the slopes to reach the summit of Peak 3425 ft (see attached page).
A few pictures from the right branch of the canyon (after the split in my path as shown on the map).
Upper parts of the canyon, on the slopes of Peak 3425 ft became more open.
Parts of the canyon are reserved as Birds of Prey Nesting Sites. No entry is allowed February 1 to July 1. Otherwise no fees or permits needed.
When to Hike
Winter is the best time to hike (see above Red Tape). Summer can get dangerously hot.